The Census collects information about population, which plays a fundamental part in predicting road use
Walt Steinvorth calls himself “the firm’s fortune teller” but he doesn’t use Tarot Cards or a crystal ball. Steinvorth depends on “a lot of science” to predict the number of vehicles expected to use an existing or future transportation facility using a traffic demand model or TDM. Census information is a fundamental ingredient of a TDM.
UDOT gets population numbers from demographers at the Governor’s office of Planning and Budget who look at historical trends, employment, birth and death rates to predict future population. Transportation planners use these population forecasts as inputs to the TDM to predict future highway and transit demand.
The Federal Government requires the departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop long range multi-modal transportation system plans for 20 years into the future. TDMs are used to determine where and when to expand highway and transit systems to meet future demand.
During long range transportation planning, UDOT and the MPOs uses a TDM to test various transportation alternatives. When planning future improvements for existing roads, a TDM is used to determine if more lanes are needed, and if so, how many. TDMs also provide information about pedestrian and bike use.
NOTE: UDOT is an ARE (acronym rich environment). MPO and TDM are a few acronyms that see frequent use here at the DOT. Click this link to see a list of other commonly used transportation acronyms. Then, impress your friends and family by using ATMS, LOS, or MUTCD with confidence. Your mom will be so proud.